Half-Hanged Mary Webster (no relation)

These are personal notes I probably cribbed from Wikipedia. I’m interested in her because 1) she lived in Hadley at the time some of my ancestors also did, and they would surely have known her or at least her family, and 2) my ancestor Rev. Cotton Mather wrote extensively about her, and the Salem witch trials.

Mary Webster, née Reeve, was a resident of Puritan Hadley, Massachusetts, who was accused of witchcraft. She was born in England. Her exact birth year is unknown but is believed to be around 1624. Accounts of her birthdate range from 1617 to 1624, but she most certainly was born in England. She was the daughter of Thomas Reeves (father) of Springfield, Massachusetts, and sister to Thomas Reeves. Her mother is unknown.

She was accused of witchcraft. Later, she was hanged from a tree by some residents of Hadley. According to one of several accounts, she was left hanging all night. It is known that when she was cut down she was still alive and lived for another 14 years. Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who believed Mary to be her ancestor, made Webster the subject of her poem “Half-Hanged Mary,” and dedicated her novel The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) to her. No records exist of Webster having had any children.

Perhaps the most exhaustive account of Mary Webster’s disputes with Philip Smith and the subsequent accusations and witchcraft trial comes from Cotton Mather’s Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions: A Faithful Account of many Wonderful and Surprising Things, that have befallen several Bewitched and Possessed Persons in New-England. Mather does not identify Mary Reeve Webster personally, but the dates and names that are included leave little doubt that her case is the one being documented. Webster’s case is Cotton Mather’s “second exemple” in the text.

 

And how can I not love this poem?

HALF-HANGED MARY – by Margaret Atwood

(“Half-hanged Mary” was Mary Webster, who was accused of witchcraft in the 1680’s in a Puritan town in Massachusetts and hanged from a tree – where, according to one of the several surviving accounts, she was left all night. It is known that when she was cut down she was still alive, since she lived for another fourteen years.)

7pm

Rumour was loose in the air
hunting for some neck to land on.
I was milking the cow,
the barn door open to the sunset.

I didn’t feel the aimed word hit
and go in like a soft bullet.
I didn’t feel the smashed flesh
closing over it like water
over a thrown stone.

I was hanged for living alone
for having blue eyes and a sunburned skin,
tattered skirts, few buttons,
a weedy farm in my own name,
and a surefire cure for warts;

Oh yes, and breasts,
and a sweet pear hidden in my body.
Whenever there’s talk of demons
these come in handy.

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/01/277707.shtml

http://web.archive.org/web/20080913014839/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/Bur4Nar.htmlBurr, George Lincoln, 1857-1938. “The Wonders of the Invisible World,” by Cotton Mather, 1693 ; from Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

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The Kelloggs of Hadley, Massachusetts (and a bunch of research links)

Shaking a few unexplored branches of my family tree, specifically in hopes of finding inspiration for my living history “persona” – to wit: Who the hell am I going to be? So I’ve been digging around the internets, hoping to unearth interesting ancestors in colonial New England. And I’ve found quite a few, according to family charts and information I’ve gleaned from public websites and forums (which I’m quire certain is all completely sound and utterly unimpeachable, of course).

I present for your kind consideration, Joseph Kellogg, one of my  ninth great-grandfathers. I did the math, by the way – everyone has 1,024 ninth great-grandfathers, in case you were wondering (I’m a chronic wonderer). Here is the gist of what I’ve learned about him, and his descendants. I’ve emboldened a few of the more interesting bits.

JOSEPH – Baptized 1 April 1626; married firstly, Joanna; after her death, ABIGAIL TERRY.

Settled in New England. Known to be living in FARMINGTON, CONNECTICUT, early as 1651; BOSTON in 1657; one of the first settlers and a proprietor of HADLEY, MASSACHUSETTS in 1652. Became a Freeman in 1654.

“Although genealogies of our ancestor JOSEPH claim that he is the immigrant ancestor of the American KELLOGG families, this may be incorrect, as his two brothers who also came to America both married and were the forefathers of their own branch of the KELLOGG families. Adequate research of early New England written records find both Daniel and Samuel and their families recorded.

The fact that all three brothers did name their children with the same first names of uncles, aunts, and cousins, required diligent research to identify our own branch of the family. This tradition of naming their children for others of the family was carried down through generations even to this day.”

In 1663 he was made a sergeant in the militia, ensign in 1678, and lieutenant in 1679. He took part in the Indian skirmish known as “The Falls Fight” in 1676. At that time he was the ferryman at Hadley, Mass., which business was kept in the family for one hundred years.

He frequently served as selectman in the town of Hadley, and must have been well-to-do, for in 1673 his second wife was before the court [along with several other women] for not dressing in silk attire according to the prescribed custom of her station. However she was acquitted of a misdemeanor. Joseph had two wives, Joanna and Abigail Terry, and was the father of twenty-five children, the tenth being STEPHEN.

2. STEPHEN KELLOGG,the next in line, was born April 9, 1668, and died June 5, 1722, aged 54 years. Lived at Westfield, Mass., where grave stone may still be seen. He was a weaver; rem. to Westfield in 1697. His will was dated 2 June, 1722, and proved 5 Feb., following. His wife was Lydia Belden, b. Mar., 1675, dau. of John And Lydia Belden of Wethersfield, Conn. They were married 8 of May, 1694.

ENSIGN STEPHEN and LYDIA (BELDEN) KELLOGG FAMILY

STEPHEN, firstborn of JOSEPH and ABIGAIL (TERRY) KELLOGG, at HADLEY, on April 9, 1668, and raised there during the King Phillip War in which his father fought, as well as other skirmishes in Indian wars. Little is recorded of STEPHEN, though this does not prove he did not himself participate in engagements with Indians or the enemy French.

He was a member of the WESTFIELD militia – the town where he settled after his marriage on May 8, 1695 to LYDIA BELDEN. STEPHEN was twenty-seven when he married and LYDIA, born in March 1675 at WETHERSFIELD, CONNECTICUT was the age twenty years. She was the eighth child of her parents, JOHN and LYDIA (STANDISH) BELDEN.

The surname BELDEN is prominent in New England Colonial history, the earliest American BELDEN ancestor, is RICHARD, who first settled in America at WETHERSFIELD in 1650. He had two sons whom he probably brought with him; SAMUEL and JOHN. RICHARD became a Freeman in 1657 and moved to HATFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS which must be where STEPHEN and LYDIA met. [Wikipedia: “Freeman is a term which originated in 12th-century Europe and was common as an American Colonial expression in Puritan times. In the Bay Colony, a man had to be a member of the Church to be a freeman; in Colonial Plymouth, a man did not need to be a member of the Church, but he had to be elected to this privilege by the General Court. Being a freeman carried with it the right to vote, and only freemen could vote in Plymouth by 1632.”] 

Frequently, the surname BELDING is found in histories which also include the name BELDEN; and though both names continued down through generations, genealogists write that these names both stem from the same family. Several of the BELDEN family were killed or captured by Indians at DEERFIELD in 1696.

WESTFIELD is located on the west side of the Connecticut River a few miles southwest of Hadley, and on the south side of the WESTFIELD RIVER. Here STEPHEN and LYDIA purchased property and undertook farming. STEPHEN was appointed an Ensign of the Westfield Militia. Although this militia is mentioned in some tales of Indian wars, and no specific mention of him is made, we can be almost certain that he did engage in such actions and probably somewhere his record can be found.

STEPHEN can be identified as among the generation which was beginning to question the influence of the Church and the everyday dictates of the individual parson upon his flock. Though STEPHEN remained a staunch supporter of the Church and a believer – he was one of at least two men who called the attention of the flock to their preacher’s continuance of “fast day” after it had been long discontinued by the heads of the Church at Boston.

How this incident came about is recorded in the records of his church by the handwriting of the parson involved, and is reproduced here. “Touching our brethren Stephen Kellogg & Sergt. Joseph Maudsley who did somewhat buggle at our Church fasts which in ye winter time we attended once a month since we gathered in a Church state, except those four years when we had a monthly Lecture up.& at length they wholly desisted & Pleade against as unlawful being stated Fasts.

Whereupon on ye 27 day of March 1710 ye last Fast that winter Brother Kellogg being there & Sergt. Maudsley, ye day before setting forth upon a journey to the B A Y (Massachusetts Bay), I enquired of Brother Stephen Kellogg ye reason why they withdrew from ye duty of Fasting & Prayer with ye Church. His reply was in effect this.

He was not doubtful touching the Law Fulness of ye stating of them. For stated Fasts were held unlawful by ye Consociation of Elders in ye Bay.” The author of the history being quoted added that – Two years later, “this doughty independent” was caught off his guard by a temptation that has beguiled many persons through all human generations. As the records of his Church shows, he became humbly penitent. (But one might wonder if his parson did not feel a little glee).

“Brother Stephen Kellogg at Barn raising. (on June 17, 1712) Being at ye Barn raising when the wether was coming warm & much sider was brought and after it Joseph Pixlie drinking with others, it was reported that he was overtaken but it not being proved, he being sensible that many were offended, stood up according to advise.

Upon our conference day 17d 4mo 1712 & spoke to ye following effect. That he was sensible yt (that) he was a very sinful creature and apt to offend in many things, to his great griefe & if any had observed any offence in him he earnestly desired yt (that) they would pardon the same & help him with his prayers & he hoped yt (that) God would enable him to walk with greater watchfulness over himself for ye time to come or in words to this effect & so all things to an end”

Thus the writings of his preacher gives us a little insight into STEPHEN’s life. And, though the parson may have colored the record to better prove himself – I, personally, would like to believe that STEPHEN just might have went into his barn upon returning home and partook of just a little sip of “sider”.(from Leonard Raab’s book.)

But, for these excerpts from the WESTFIELD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH records we would not have these humanizing notes of our ancestor STEPHEN. The Records show however, that he was considered an upstanding member and a Puritan still. The drinking of ale and other malt liquors was an accepted practice by the Puritans – after all, they had come from England where this was a traditional way of life, and settling new colonies in New England did not change this tradition one bit. But – the drinking of “hard” cider or distilled liquors was frowned upon, at least if you were caught, and there was always the fanatical neighbor who would believe it his or her duty to report such sinful conduct to the parson.

Relatives of both STEPHEN and LYDIA had undergone personal tragedies by the loss of life or being taken captive by the Indians and French during “Queen Anne’s War” of 1713, their immediate family was to also experience personal tragedies.

STEPHEN died at WESTFIELD on June 5, 1722 at the age of only fifty-four, and did not live to learn of the early deaths of two sons and a grandson. LYDIA died in January 1759 at the age of eighty-four at COLCHESTER, CONNECTICUT, possibly still the home of their daughter MERCY.

Their children were: 1. Stephen, b. 3 Feb., 1695; m. (1)Abigail Loomis; (2)Mary Cook. 2.Lydia, b. 24 Jan., 1697. 3. Moses, b.20 Oct., 1700; d. 15 Sept., 1704. 4. Abigail, b. 27 Dec. 1702,m. Christopher Jacob Lawton. 5. Daniel, b. 15 Dec. 1704;m. Hannah Noble 6. Ephriam, b. 2 July, 1707; 7. Mercy, b. 30 Oct. 1709; m. (1) Rev. Judah Lewis; (2) David Bigelow. 8. Noah, b.13 Feb.,1711; 9. SILAS B. 7 Apr., 1714., m. Ruth Root. 10. Amos, b.30 Sept., 1716., 11. Aaron, b.— m.Mary Lewis.

http://kelloggsoutwest.com/begin.html

As always, I wish there was more information about their wives and daughters.
Assorted other links of interest:

https://familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/9193493 – more about Joseph Kellogg, ferryman of Hadley, MA

http://www.historyplace.com/specials/writers/kingphilip.htm – interesting history – King Philip’s War started at Mount Hope in Bristol?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunice_Kanenstenhawi_Williams – persona fodder? colonist captured by Indians, raised in the tribe, refused to return home. Shades of Olive Oatman.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_Deerfield – another trip back to Historic Deerfield is in order
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/327321.The_Widow_s_War – Reread Sally Cabot Gunning’s widow trilogy – they were really wonderful. In fact, I need to own them. They’re worth it, for the topics I’m researching (and hoping possibly to write about).
https://archive.org/details/historyofhadleyi00judd – History of Hadley, MA. I really feel I should read this. I feel like things might go a little Sarah Vowell up in here. Which is to say, pleasantly weird. Other family surnames of mine in the Hadley, MA area of the Massachusetts Bay Colony:
BELDEN/BELDING/BAILDING/BAILDON
LOOMIS
WELLER
WRIGHT
TAYLOR
STANDISH
JUDD
HANCHETT
TERRY
Maybe they’ll all be in that book.